Noninvasive genetic sampling provides great potential for research and management applications in wildlife biology. Researchers can obtain DNA from a variety of sources including hair, feces, urine, feathers, shed skin, saliva, and egg shells without handling or observing animals. These samples can then be used to identify the presence of rare or elusive species, count and identify individuals, determine gender, and identify diet items, or samples can be used to evaluate genetic diversity, population structure, and mating system. We review the recent advancements and techniques used for identifying species, individuals, and gender. We also address the potential pitfalls of noninvasive genetic sampling and provide recommendations for laboratory- and field-based methods to improve the reliability and accuracy of data collected from noninvasive genetic samples.
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Vol. 69 • No. 4